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What You Need to Know About Pinot’s Palette, the Nation’s Fastest Growing “Paint and Sip” Franchise (Q&A with CEO Craig Ceccanti)

by Franchise Chatter on October 14, 2012

in Art-Related Franchise, Franchise Chatter Exclusive, Q & A Interview

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Pinot’s Palette, a national Paint and Sip franchise known for providing guests with an entertaining evening of art and wine, is experiencing unprecedented growth in 2012 with the signing of 15 franchise agreements and the opening of four studios. The company is on track to open an additional 10 studios by the end of the year.

Pinot's Palette Management Team

Left to Right: Charles Willis, Founding Member and President of Pinot’s Palette; Beth Willis, Chief Creative Office of Pinot’s Palette; and Craig Ceccanti, Founding Member and CEO of Pinot’s Palette.

At Pinot’s Palette, guests sign up online to attend a two or three hour painting class where they are instructed by a local, trained artist on how to recreate the featured painting of the night. Pinot’s Palette supplies art supplies, plates, and wine glasses and guests are encouraged to bring their own wine and snacks, although some studios offer adult beverages for purchase.

Franchisees have access to extensive painting libraries of tested artwork as well as the ability to create their own paintings to respond to guests’ changing taste in artwork and local trends in their respective communities.

Craig Ceccanti is a founding member and the CEO of Pinot’s Palette. Prior to founding Pinot’s Palette, Craig was involved in management and strategy consulting for various industries. Most notably, he was a technology/custom software consultant, which would later come in handy as he left his job to focus on Pinot’s Palette full time, particularly the brand’s innovative technology, which is one of their top three differentiators.

Franchise Chatter (FC):  Can you tell us the story of how Pinot’s Palette got its start?

Craig Ceccanti (CC):  My best friend, Charles Willis and I had a history of tossing around potential business ideas on the golf course. Somewhere on the front nine, the concept of Pinot’s Palette was born. It wasn’t until Charles’ wife, Beth brought up the market power of a girl’s night out and date night that we decided this was the perfect opportunity for us. Within a week, we had a business plan and opened our first
Pinot’s Palette in Houston in May 2009.

FC:  For those unfamiliar, please describe the concept of your franchise opportunity.

CC:  Pinot’s Palette, as a concept, is fairly simple. Customers arrive at the studio with their own wine* and snacks, Pinot’s Palette provides ice buckets, wine glasses, paints, brushes, and everything else you need to become your own Picasso, Van Gogh, or Matisse. One of Pinot’s Palette’s artists will walk you through the creation of your very own painting, guiding your every brush stroke so you’ll be proud enough to hang it on your own wall. It’s become a place where people come for a memorable night out and just happen to create amazing art.

*liquor sales vary by location

FC:  What sets Pinot’s Palette apart from other entertainment art franchise opportunities?

CC:  Pinot’s Palette is the fastest growing Paint and Sip franchise because Pinot’s Palette has proven systems and extensive corporate support that differentiate us from our competitors and make us an ideal franchise opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to bring a strong Paint and Sip concept to their city.

Customer Excellence – Pinot’s Palette studios provide the highest customer service. Our training system provides franchisees with invaluable experience and the confidence to handle any situation. We also provide draft email templates to answer the most frequent questions they may encounter on a daily basis.

Marketing Strategy – Our business flourishes by word-of-mouth endorsements, so our marketing strategies have been created to generate that type of “buzz.” We share our techniques for reaching the ideal customers in an affordable and effective manner.

New Product Development – We pride ourselves on raising industry standards. Bringing fresh, fun, and creative ideas to the calendars each month keeps our repeat customer percentages high.

Pinot Culture – Taking the time to express and create our business culture has defined the type of people we hire to be part of the Pinot’s Palette team. This philosophy creates a customer experience unachievable by our competitors. Our culture, often described as Team Pinot, is an integral part of our business plan and is of the utmost importance to the success of the organization.

Community Commitment – Giving back is a top priority at Pinot’s, and the ability to support local artists garners a strong, positive impact on the local art community. We donate to multiple community fundraising events throughout the year.

Environmental Awareness – Every day, small steps are taken to improve the environment through practices such as recycling, the use of environmentally-friendly paint products, and more.

Innovative Technology – We lead the pack with our high-quality reservation and management systems. These systems allow the computer to do the work, and free up time to focus on running the business and marketing to your local community.

Pinot's Palette Studio PhotoFC:  What are you looking for in a prospective franchisee?

CC:  We are looking for qualified candidates who want to own a rewarding business; someone who has the motivation of an entrepreneur and the drive of an entertainer.

Our franchise system is comprised of doctors, consultants, engineers, IT project managers, and pharmaceutical sales reps, proving the background doesn’t matter as much as the character. Artistic background is not required; a franchisee’s responsibility is management.

The candidates we’re looking for should have good people skills, they should have values that fit comfortably within our culture, and they should have the ability to provide leadership in their studio and generate goodwill in the community.

FC:  What can you tell us about the estimated initial investment?

CC:  Financially, we require that all of our partners have a minimum of $80,000+ of liquid assets. This estimate covers costs associated with starting the business, including the franchise fee, business licenses and permits, leasehold improvements, fixtures, furnishing and equipment, computer systems, initial inventory, grand opening advertising, initial three months of capital, and more.

FC:  What kind of training and support can your franchisees expect to receive? What are you doing to help your franchisees become profitable within a reasonable period of time?

CC:  Pinot’s Palette offers extensive training and support to all of our franchisees. During our initial Jump Start Training, a Development Manager will help you find the best location to start your business. Then you will embark on a week of intensive training, called Boot Camp, at our Headquarters in Houston, Texas. Here, you will learn the operational skills needed to exceed Pinot’s Palette’s excellent customer service expectations. Your opening artist staff will then be trained in your studio by a Pinot’s Palette experienced artist trainer.

In addition to pre-opening, training, and ongoing support, our franchisees are equipped with Pinot Technology Suite (PTS), an automated communication system designed to streamline administrative tasks. Our technology manages everything from tracking reservations, classes, marketing promotions, private parties, to payroll, and more. The investment continues to pay off and proves to be a major decision maker in joining Team Pinot’s Palette and allows franchisees to run the business more efficiently.

Charles, Beth, and I are passionate about working with other entrepreneurs and teaching them how to do what we’ve done. Our background is in consulting, so we wanted to help them open their own successful businesses.

FC:  What are your growth plans for Pinot’s Palette in 2012 and beyond? Which regions are you targeting for expansion?

CC:  This is an exciting time for Pinot’s Palette. Entertainment art is a rapidly growing industry and we have a vibrant, energizing brand and are looking to expand in cities across the country. We are currently offering both single and multi-unit development opportunities and are seeking
professionals with strong community ties and a passion for creating memorable experiences to help grow the company into new markets. Finding out more information is easy – just go to pinotspalette.com and click on the franchise tab.

To learn more about Pinot’s Palette, visit their website and follow them on Twitter.

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